A diverse group of Drexel University students and community members gathered at a candlelight vigil from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Rush Garden on Lancaster Walk, to honor the lives lost in Gaza as well as to rally spirits.
The event was hosted by Drexel’s Middle Eastern and North African student organization, who often host cultural and social events. Several club members and unaffiliated student speakers stood in front of the crowd to bring awareness, speak their mind and read pieces they prepared.
Youssef Rafeh, MENA’s president, began by drawing attention to the strings of pennant banners hanging between the lamp posts and trees. On each banner, the names of Palestinians who were killed were listed by the dozen. Another club member encouraged everyone to raise their voices in support of the cause but also stated that silence speaks as loud as words when people are dying.
They spoke directly towards Drexel officials, corporations and personal connections, saying “We hear your silence!”
Unaffiliated speakers included Jewish and Vietnamese students, who drew on historical motivations to express support towards Palestinians.
The Jewish students made comparisons to the Holocaust, calling the Israeli government “hypocritical,” while the Vietnamese students alluded to Palestine’s support for Vietnam in the 1970s, saying that they had the Viet community’s support.
Rafeh addressed the crowd once more, framing this conflict not as a “political issue, but a human rights issue” before pausing to pass candles to members of the crowd.
The candles were lit, and after a solemn minute of silence, the rest of the vigil commenced.
More candles were lit to illuminate the mat adorned with names on the ground and the “Free Palestine” signs. After the allotted time, the crowd was left to mingle and share more personal anecdotes before fizzling out.